Monday, May 30, 2011

"They grow 'em big..."

This great photo came to me via e-mail forwarded by a friend, under a subject line that says, "They grow 'em big in Georgia!"

According to the e-mail, this is a 9-foot, 1-inch Georgia rattle snake weighing 97-pounds and found in Bulloch County, just north of Savannah.

"Biggest rattler found since Ross Allen captured one in 1969, that measured 9 feet, 1 inch but only weighed 78 lbs.," the e-mail points out.

"This old guy was found inside a [sic] open water tank near an abandoned chicken house," the e-mail continues.

I'm not sure if the reference to "old guy" refers to the snake or the geezer with the pole -- but it really doesn't matter.

Either way, the whole thing is a lie.

Apparently, this same photo has been turning up all over the country.

In one instance, the snake is said to have been found in Medicine Lodge, Kansas. In another, it came from Amarillo, Texas.

And, regardless, it is undeserving of the praise it got in a Georgia website called Lowcountry Outdoors:

"Truly a magnificent specimen, a mature diamondback rattlesnake is a wonder of nature and he makes his home in parts of our coastal plain. These snakes are much more rare these days and most outdoorsmen have never seen a diamondback in person."

Another website,, questions the snake's authenticity altogether.

"The picture itself is one of a rattlesnake that has been positioned well in front of the man holding it and close enough to the lens of the camera to make it appear larger than life," the website points out. "It's doubtful that a 97-pound rattlesnake could be held as effortlessly as depicted in the picture."

This is a prime example of why we really can't rely on the internet for news.

And, by the way,  here's a recent picture taken outside my house with a cellphone.  The snake and the children are real, and there's no Photoshop involved.


  1. Or we could all just check Snopes.

    And that Mary Norwood picture just stunned my keyboard into paralysis.

  2. Hey CB. I referenced this post in my update today. I couldn't agree more!

  3. Great research, CB and an excellent point.

    Print media is fading as a reliable source for facts. The broadcast media is much worse.

    WSB-TV is the only place I worked (as an intern, then a little freelance work on the weekends while I was still in college) that checked the facts in AP stories before they ran them.

    Horror story: one TV reporter I worked with in a small market taped UPI copy to the lens of the of camera and read it verbatim as his standup!

    Also, Wikipedia is frequently used as a source even by print media, but it's not reliable and reporters can be punk'd if they use that as a primary source. See:

    I've also noticed that Wikipedia posts seem to be authored by the person they're about (or their P.R. Team) so you get a one-sided view. I saw one recently that was cut & pasted from the subject's personal web site!

    A few years back, I had an extended phone conversation with Rich Buhler, who runs He did a whole half hour of my show on CNN one day taking viewer calls on urban legends. It was one of the liveliest shows I ever EPd.

    Hoax emails are one of my personal pet peeves. If I get one, I REPLY ALL then send my research showing it's a hoax. I don't get as many as I used to and perhaps have fewer friends because of it.

    OK, I'm off my soapbox...

  4. Great post! You hit on one of the things that I try to emphasize when we have journalism students tour-that what we put on the web has gone through the same vetting process as our print product.

    Sadly, most people don't seem to look past, "hey, look at that snake!"

  5. This post reminds me of when I used to work in Home Depot in GA. I never made enough to pay my bills, now I started my own import export home business selling goods online, mostly clothes and shoes. I have now more money to buy a lot of things in home depot. Maybe a snake trap.